Ian Tonks receives LSI Graduate Research Faculty Safety Award

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (03/23/21) — University of Minnesota Chemistry Associate Professor Ian A. Tonks has been selected to receive the Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) Graduate Research Faculty Safety Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Health and Safety. This award recognizes graduate-level academic research faculty who demonstrate outstanding commitment to chemical health and safety in their laboratories.

Tonks is only the second annual recipient of the ACS award that began in 2020. The only other recipient is University of Minnesota Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Professor Mahesh Mahanthappa.

This award gives Tonks paid travel expenses to attend the ACS national meeting and deliver a presentation at the Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) Awards Symposium, a grant to be used for safety enhancements in the department, an engraved plaque, and an award certificate.

The awardees are chosen based on their values and behaviors in regard to safety-compliance expectations, safety information and training, safe behavior, hazard and risk evaluation, the designation of safety leaders, and promotion of a positive safety culture in the laboratory.

“Above all else, I think that this award represents an incredible amount of hard work, self-assessment, and buy-in on chemical safety from the Department of Chemistry as a whole,” said Tonks after saying he was honored and humbled to receive the award. “I’m very proud to be a part of a department where safety culture is at the forefront, where I can serve by enabling and empowering our great students to enact change and become leaders and innovators in safety. It’s been a great pleasure to support the Department of Chemistry/Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science student-run Joint Safety Team, who really do it all.”

Tonks also recognized others in the Department of Chemistry who make the department a model of safety.

“A big part of our success is having empathetic and diplomatic colleagues like Chuck Tomlinson, our director of operations, to help guide messaging and kindly keep our students and faculty accountable,” Tonks said. “I’d also like to thank the UMN Department of Environmental Health and Safety, especially Anna Sitek, who served as our departmental chemical hygiene officer and whose collaborative and collegial approach has helped us become one of the standard-bearers for academic chemical safety.”

About Ian Tonks and his research

Tonks earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received a number of awards, including the 2019 Department of Energy Early Career Research Program award, the 2019 ACS Organometallics Distinguished Author Award, a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for 2018-2020, a Thieme Chemistry journals award, an ACS Organic Division Academic Young Investigator Award, a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and a National Institutes of Health Outstanding Investigator Award.

Tonks’ research group at the University of Minnesota focuses on organometallic chemistry, solving difficult problems in catalysis, and studying reaction kinetics and mechanism to develop new stoichiometric and catalytic processes. He’s an associate editor of the top journal in his subdiscipline, Organometallics, and his peer-reviewed work has been published in top scientific journals such as Nature Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Organometallics, and Nature Reviews Chemistry.